By Paul Candy
Regardless of what cables I used with the MK3, the difference between stock hiFace and MK3 was so huge as to make it difficult hearing any similarities between the two. With the MK3 playback was bigger, bolder and more dramatic but also smoother, less aggressive and edgy. High strings had a sweeter more singing tone. Percussion had a bit more snap and impact. Textures were more fleshed out and vibrant. The sense of forward momentum and relaxed ease that had so impressed me with the Calyx was clearly evident too. The soundstage opened up in depth and width with a greater sense of space, focus and definition between vocal and instrumental images. Overall balance and flow was more analogue-like which in my experience suggests excellent jitter reduction/rejection...........
But as with all things audio, food, wine or any vice, once you have a taste of the good stuff, it’s difficult to settle for less. The JKSPDIF MK3 is most definitely the good/better stuff and an excellent option for anyone wanting to play music from a computer who is unwilling to replace an existing premium DAC for an USB-enabled converter. After spending several weeks with the JKSPDIF MK3, I frankly could care less if a DAC had USB or not. With this little gizmo it’s a non-issue. My advice? Buy the best DAC you can afford and if it doesn’t do USB, don’t fret. The JKSPDIF MK3 has your back.
Audio Ramblings - a Plethora of USB Converters from Blue Circle, Audiophilleo, Halide Designs, M2Tech, JKMods, Stello, with a bit on Cardas and Black Cat
by Dave Clark
Going the battery route clearly alters the sound in terms of becoming warmer and richer, with an overall more organic and 'substantial' sound while still retaining all the positives of the stock M2Tech. You still the 'tinkle' but with more decay and air… the 'tinkle-ness' now sits more 'among the group' as opposed to standing out from the crowd. The Upgraded M2Tech presents music with a greater sense of density and heft… reminds me of other battery-powered devices.........
Now what you have is actually an M2Tech HiFace with all the benefits (24/192), but the computer still needs the driver installed meaning that it works just like a stock HiFace, except it is now sitting in a box… a plastic box that now needs a male A to female A USB cable. You might be able to plug it directly to your computer if everything lines-up just right, in my case it doesn't. So a generic USB cable to the rescue. All things considered this is clearly a step-up over that from the stock M2Tech, which suggests that getting better power to the right circuits/parts is just as important as getting the bits from A to B. Yeah, nice indeed and not for a lot more money though it is a simply plastic box so no points for being glitzy and fancy. Big deal so it is not eye-candy, but it does address some of the perceived faults of the stock unit. It is less aggressive and in a way, more organic. Gee, who would have thought that power noise and whatnot would be such an issue? But yeah that is exactly what noise can sound like… a bit more aggressiveness, more perceived resolution via etch caused by there being more grain that is riding along with the music. Take that away and you actually hear more while hearing less: more music and less fatigue and whatever. Of course I am only speculating here that by going the battery route over 100% USB power is removing or mitigating to some degree noise or whatever that is mucking up the sound in terms of the stock unit having more this or that… or less whatever. Which is not to say that the stock M2Tech is not good, yeah, it is quite amazing for what it is and for what it does, but at $150 obviously trade-offs and compromises had to be made… so as good as it is, going with a $140 upgrade in terms of how the device receives power moves the M2Tech up quite a few meaningful notches on the musical scale. Highly recommended.
MK1 Boxed M2Tech hiFace Evo USB To S/PDIF Converter
Plus the Halide Design Bridge and John Kenny Mk1 boxed hiFace.
The review of the modified Hiface has arrived http://enjoythemusic.com/magazine/equipment/1110/m2tech_hiface_evo_dac.htm
It compares the M2tech Evo & the Halide Bridge to the JKHiface. Remember this is the MK1 version that is being reviewed so the battery comments don't apply & are somewhat incorrect for the MK1 anyway! Extract from conclusion:
John Kenny Mk1 boxed hiFacePros:
Best sound of the three provided inline RF attenuators are used to get the level down to standards.
Lowest initial cost.
JOHN KENNY MODIFIED HiFace
USB 24/192 COMPUTER INTERFACE
A review of the MK2 Hiface has just been published in StereoMojo. An extract from the conclusion "The Mk1 modded HiFace didn't just give good performance for PC based sound - it gave good performance, period. I was lucky enough for John to also loan me a Mk1 again with the Mk2 so I could directly compare one to the other. Well, when I tried the Mk1, I remembered quite well the original sound - clear highs, tight lows and a really good clarity. I listened like that for a few days. Then I swapped in the Mk2. Now I could see why John was excited about the new mods: yes, there is a definite improvement with the Mk2. So what changed? Well, the space and resolution around individual instruments and singers was improved, which led to a much better appreciation of the soundstage. Better depth, width and height were readily apparent. I could detect no downsides to this: there was no trace of any kind of glare or harshness, listening fatigue never set it."
A glowing review of the MK2 Hiface has just been published in Digital Audio Review, an Australian review site. An extract from the conclusion reads "The improvements from some affordable hifi upgrades are so obvious, so plain that it is easy to explain them as such. John Kenny's second round in the ring with modifying the M2Tech Hiface is one such product. If you're a dedicated computer audiophile - with either a Windows PC or a Mac as transport - you NEED this device. Live with it for only a few hours and it renders the standard USB output as dead from the neck down. As evidenced by my own experimenting with a variety of DACs, your mileage will indeed vary, but I struggled to find a DAC that didn't justify the asking price. I thought about tagging this battery-powered Hiface as "highly recommended" but it's better than that - instead, I have to go with "essential". Got computer? Get this."